January 11, 2011
Park City, UT USA
Review by Terry Walsh
Photos by Terry Walsh
After more than four decades in the music business, Daryl Hall & John Oates have more than earned the right to choose when and where they play. Nevertheless, it still came as quite a surprise to see a poster advertising a solo John Oates show at a small, intimate bar in Park City, UT, but there he was, and his show left everyone in attendance with no doubt that John Oates is WAY more than the "& Oates" part of Hall & Oates. Backed by a tight 3 piece band and wielding an acoustic guitar, Oates opened the show with a pair of tunes from Hall & Oates' 1973 Abandoned Luncheonette album; a haunting version of "Lady Rain" and the wistful "Had I Known You Better Then". From the moment he took the stage, Oates owned the crowd of about 200 people, and interacted with them like old friends. He exchanged banter, and shared interesting and amusing anecdotes behind the songs people had known for years. One story involved the massive hit "Maneater" whose inspiration came from an evening at a New York nightclub, and the arrival of a woman whose beauty made time stand still; a woman whose beauty was quickly overshadowed by her penchant for cussing worse than the average sailor. Oates deftly dodged (or perhaps answered) the question of "Maneater's" identity by singing a line from the song "Lady In Red".
There were plenty of Hall & Oates hits like "Out of Touch," "She's Gone", and a funky soul version of "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" to keep the fans happy, but the evening was more than just a trip down memory lane of Hall & Oates classics. It was a chance for Oates to unveil songs from his upcoming solo album, Mississippi Mile, featuring Blues and Bluegrass standards such as The Impressions' "It's All Right" mixed with Oates' original compositions. Throughout the set, Oates mixed in a heavy dose of selections from the album including "Deep River Blues" and the title track. By comparison to most shows when people head for the aisles during "the new stuff", nobody made a move while Oates performed his upcoming material. Everyone seemed to enjoy the new material and Oates in turn dug in for inspired, passionate performances of the new songs.
The big surprise from John Oates was not only his deft guitar playing (something often overshadowed by the pop sheen of Hall & Oates), but the sheer range of his voice. Often relegated to an even, somewhat bouncy style on Hall & Oates albums, his voice revealed a soulful, sometimes gritty style in person. It was a welcome surprise. After nearly 2 hours, the set came to a close with the bluesy "Ghost Town" from his 1000 Miles Of Life album. By this time, the club was packed to the gills and everyone in attendance was on their feet dancing and clapping. The show ended with a four song encore including "Down Bound Train," "Let It Roll," a faithful version of Hall & Oates' "She's Gone" and a re-worked, jazzy version of "You Make My Dreams" before the band finally called it a night. This was one of those rare shows where you were just glad to be there, and at the same time walked out with a new appreciation for an artist you had vastly underestimated.